For people trying to slim down, their search for the best exercises for weight loss is extremely important. In addition to dietary choices, how you spend your active hours each week will have a major impact on weight loss. Exercising helps to increase the body’s heart rate and will give the metabolism a long-term boost, but not all exercises are created equal.
On a basic level, lifting weights and resistance training is recommended for muscle development, whereas cardiovascular exercise (workouts that elevate your heart rate and keep it there) is better for calorie- and fat-burning. At the most fundamental level of our metabolism, energy consumed (food) can only be countered with energy expended (exercise). While there may be many other “get-thin-quick” schemes, exercise and dietary choices are the two basic drivers of weight loss.
Table of Contents
List of Best Exercises for Weight Loss
Many of the best exercise for weight loss include squats, jumping rope, kettlebell swings, stairs, stationary bike, rowing machine, running, kickboxing, burpees, pull-ups, crunches and swimming, among many others.
Working the stairs is one of the more tedious exercises, but also an extremely effective one. It provides both an anaerobic and aerobic workout, and targets multiple muscle groups at the same time. If you want to increase the impact of your workout, try climbing and descending stairs with dumbbells in your hands.
For a low-impact workout that can quickly burn calories, a stationary bike is one of your best options. If you want to burn 300-400 calories per hour on a stationary bike, alternate speeds and intensities every 5-6 minutes, and minimize rest, which will keep your heart rate up and your calorie burning at an even level.
This isn’t the most widely available exercise machine in gyms, but it is excellent for working out multiple muscle groups at the same time, while also elevating your heart rate. As a resistance exercise for weight loss, it closely resembles cardio workouts, which is excellent for metabolic boosting and fat-burning.
Considered one of the best exercises for weight loss, jumping rope requires constant movement and focus, and can get your heart rate up within a few minutes. At a medium to rapid speed of 120 jumps per minute, you can burn up to 800 calories with this extremely simple exercise.
Due to the resistance involved in every movement under the water, swimming is one of the most comprehensive exercises, requiring the lungs and heart to work hard to provide enough energy, thus burning a significant amount of calories. Swimming 3-4 times per week, for at least 30 minutes, can be very good for your metabolism.
If you are looking to burn weight in your abdomen, squats are one of the best choices as a workout. This can engage your core and your lower body, which many people fail to properly work out. Keeping your knees above your toes, slowly lower your buttocks until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you descend, extend your arms out straight in front of you, and then return to a standing position.
Perhaps the most popular cardiovascular workout, running is something that is both easy to do and highly effective for losing weight. However, it is important to vary your intensity, distance and elevation while running, or else your body will become accustomed to your “regular” running routine and your weight loss will tail off.
Known as one of the few exercises that continue to burn fat at a high rate, even after the workout, pull-ups are often overlooked as high-intensity workouts. However, these simple exercises, even a simple set of 10 or 12, can work out nearly a dozen different muscle systems and quickly elevate the heart rate. 1-2 sets of 10-15 pull-ups per day can show serious results, but it is crucial to gradually work up to this level.
Loathed by many high-school athletes, this exercise for weight loss can simultaneously strengthen the core, chest and legs, while also raising heart rate and giving the metabolism a satisfying workout boost. To complete a successful burpee, you must drop from a standing position into a squat, then kick your legs behind you, perform a single push-up, then kick your feet forward to the space between your hands. From there, leap skyward, hands outstretched and repeat the process again at a moderate pace.
Engaging every conceivable muscle group, from the core and abdominals to the arms, legs, buttocks, thighs and many other muscular areas. Given the intensity of many kickboxing classes, which are usually interspersed with other forms of body-weight exercises, it can quickly shed pounds and burn more calories than you take in. The combination of punching, kicking, kneeing and elbowing, practiced at least twice per week, will give your body time to recover between high-intensity workouts.
This basic exercise for weight loss may seem simple, but they do activate multiple muscle groups, and are excellent for the core, back, and abdominal muscles. One of the most effective ways to increase the power of your crunches is to hold a 5-pound on your chest as you do 2-3 sets of 20-30 crunches.
These common exercise tools are found in most gyms, and can help to shape and tone the muscles of your upper and lower body. High-intensity interval training with kettlebells can rotate between kettlebell swings, squats and presses, increasing muscle control and keeping your heart rate up, shedding hundreds of calories in a single workout.
Word of Caution
When seeking out exercise for weight loss, some people fail to realize that the human body has limits. Some people look for as much weight loss as possible while exercising, but over-exertion can result in many unwanted side effects, including dehydration, excess stress on the joints and bones, abnormal heart rhythms, and an increased risk of injuries. It is also important to remember that dietary choices are the other half of the weight-loss equation, and exercise shouldn’t be solely counted on to provide calorie- and fat-burning.
- Stress on the Body – Exercising can be a wonderful way to lose weight, but if you push you body too far, not allowing it enough time to recover its nutrients or energy, it can cause a release of stress hormones in the body, which can stimulate fat deposition.
- Fatigue and Exhaustion – When you wear out your energy supplies, as is the case when exercising, it can deplete your resources for normal activities and day-to-day functioning, resulting in fatigue and exhaustion, even if you are getting enough sleep.
- Dehydration – Some people measure the success of their workout by how much they sweat, and while this can be a measurement of your exertion, losing that much water can cause dehydration, which means less muscle formation, a slower metabolism, and the accumulation of stress hormones in the blood.
- Heart Issues – As with any strenuous exercise, if you are at risk of cardiovascular complications, or if you have already experienced a cardiac event, pushing your body past a responsible level is not only dangerous, but potentially fatal.
- Injury Risk – When you exercise for weight loss, you are putting stress and strain on your body, and maximizing every available resource. This can also spill over into the use of lean muscle mass for energy, which can weaken the body and make you more susceptible to injury while exercising.